Our opinion: ‘Serious discussion,’ open mind
John Wortman makes some sense when he talks about Warren’s pending 2022 budget.
Warren can’t simply tax its way out of a looming $1.6 million structural deficit in 2022. A big tax increase to balance that big a deficit will simply send on-the-fence homeowners and businesses running for the exits, likely with an eye toward surrounding townships with lower taxes. City residents don’t want to pay exorbitant property taxes, but they also don’t want to live in a city that doesn’t have any services whatsoever.
“If spending doesn’t change … we have to have a serious discussion about how much city government costs,” Wortman said last week.
What is puzzling is Wortman’s dislike of a proposal to accept money from Pleasant Township to pay for Warren firefighters to man Pleasant’s ambulance when volunteers aren’t available. Regionalizing values city services so there is benefit to neighbors in exchange for budget help for the city may help everyone.
Wortman is asking for a strategic plan, but he and the rest of the council should be prepared to take a serious look at regional solutions, especially knowing state revenues and many residents’ and businesses’ incomes uncertain due to COVID-19.
Nancy Freenock, city manager, is absolutely correct when she said there are models that the city can examine that may help the city out of its budget crunch.
COVID-19 has combined with our region’s existing economic and population trends to create a moment of opportunity to restructure our region’s operation.
Frank discussions are needed, but if regionalism is indeed a way of the future for Warren, then its members should probably refrain from lobbing incendiary comments toward surrounding municipalities as has happened over the past few months.
A dance is only as good as the partners you attract — and you catch more flies with honey than vinegar.